Esfahan – Iran’s ethnical diverse Mosaic City host of multiple world heritage sites

A mere hour’s flight south from Tehran, a visit to Esfahan could alone justify a trip to Iran.

It is hard to say whether the city’s immense charm lies in its aquamarine-tiled mosques and elegant gardens and palaces; in its location at the foot of the snow-capped Zagros mountains and along the curve of the Zayandeh river with its fairytale arched bridges; in its unique, majestic urban plaza and its evocative bazaar; or, year-round clear blue skies. Winters here are crisp and cool, summers sizzling, and spring balmy.

Undoubtedly the most elegant city in Iran, Esfahan was the Persian capital for a hundred-year period from 1588, when it flourished under the rule of the arts-loving despot Shah Abbas I. Traditionally a crossroads for international trade and diplomacy, the city has never ceased to wow visitors.

Isfahan Naghsh-e Jahan

Naqsh-e Jahan Square

However, Esfahan is more than a living, breathing work of art: it is an industrial supremo, a modern, cosmopolitan city, with a population of over 1.5 million. Ethnically diverse – the Christian and Jewish minority live alongside the Muslims in peace – the streets are alive with the irrepressible vitality of its youthful residents. Whether you strike up a conversation with a local, lose yourself in the winding alleys of the old quarter or relax in one of the city’s cosy teahouses, you too will fall under Esfahan’s spell. Esfahan Naghsh-e Jahan 2_HQ Esfahan Naghsh-e Jahan 3_HQ

What to do First stop has to be Naqsh-e Jahan Square, in the centre of town. Begun in 1602 and originally used as a polo ground, it’s one of the world’s largest – beating Russia’s Red Square – and is now a Unesco world heritage site.

The grassy fountain-filled courtyard is the perfect spot for people-watching, a picnic or simply soaking up the splendid monuments that surround it, such as the massive Imam Mosque complex. Adjacent to the Imam Mosque is the more intimate Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque – its intricately tiled dome never fails to mesmerise visitors.

https://i0.wp.com/persepolis.free.fr/iran/history/images/aliqapu.jpg

Ali Qapu Palace

Opposite it, is the Ali Qapu Palace, one time roost of the Safavid rulers, and at the far end is the entrance to the Grand Bazaar. It, like the covered arcade that runs around the square, is your best bet for booty: miniature paintings, decorative tiles, enamel vases and plates, jewellery, carpets, clothes and accessories – from colourful scarves, to fake designer handbags, rupushes, a type of long coat, and hijabs – as well as nuts and sweets. The city is famous for gaz, a type of nougat.

Chehel Sotoon

Chehel Sotun

Drag yourself away, if you can for another opportunity to savour high Persian culture in the form of Chehel Sotun Palace, with its mirror work, pillared hall and landscaped gardens, now filled with gaggles of friendly students. Conveniently, it’s also in the vicinity of the Museum of Contemporary Art, which exhibits works by both local and international artists.

Vank Cathedral

Don’t forget to check out Jolfa, the Armenian quarter, south of the Zayandeh River. It’s dotted with churches, including Vank Cathedral which is famous for its striking religious tableaux. Whatever you do, be sure to take a sunset stroll along the banks of the river to the striking Khaju bridge, a discreet haunt for courting couples.

khawju bridge isfahan1

Khaju bridge

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Photo gallery: Zayanderud River in Iran’s Isfahan Province

Iran Isfahan Esfahan MapThe Zayanderud River, as largest river in the central plateau of Iran, starts in the Zagros Mountains and flows 400 kilometres eastward before ending in the Gavkhouni swamp, a seasonal salt lake, southeast of Isfahan city.

Sources: Tasnim News | Photos, wikipedia | Isfahan

Chehel Sotoon in Esfahan, Iran

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The name, meaning “Forty Columns” in Persian, was inspired by the twenty slender wooden columns supporting the entrance pavilion, which, when reflected in the waters of the fountain, are said to appear to be forty.[1]

As with Ali Qapu, the palace contains many frescoes and paintings on ceramic. Many of the ceramic panels have been dispersed and are now in the possession of major museums in the west. They depict specific historical scenes …

There are also less historical, but even more aesthetic compositions in the traditional miniature style which celebrate the joy of life and love.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chehel_Sotoun

Esfahan – Ali Qapu Palace Music Room

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Ālī Qāpū (Persian: عالی‌قاپو‎, from Ottoman Turkish Âli Qapı – “High Porte“) is a grand palace in Isfahan, Iran.

It is forty-eight meters high and there are seven floors, each accessible by a difficult spiral staircase. In the sixth floor music room, deep circular niches are found in the walls, having not only aesthetic value, but also acoustic.

The building, another wonderful Safavid edifice, was built by decree of Shah Abbas the Great in the early seventeenth century. It was here that the great monarch used to entertain noble visitors, and foreign ambassadors.

The chancellery was stationed on the first floor. On the sixth, the royal reception and banquets were held. The largest rooms are found on this floor. The stucco decoration of the banquet hall abounds in motif of various vessels and cups. The sixth floor was popularly called (the music room).

Here various ensembles performed music and sang songs. From the upper galleries, the Safavid ruler watched polo, maneuvers and the horse-racing opposite the square of Naqsh-i-Jahan.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C4%80l%C4%AB_Q%C4%81p%C5%AB